Amish and Modern Society

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Section One
1. How does Weir use symbolism to convey ideas in witness? Peter Weir uses symbolism to convey ideas throughout the film witness with representations of cultures, the Amish and the modern society. These symbols include John Books gun, Rachel Lapps bonnet and the Samuels explores Johns life is visually represented with the keys, id, money and police badge and a hand gun, these are all high modern day society items. The gun is another symbol which represents violence and the power of the “English” and to the Amish “only god should have the power to take away a man’s life”. The bonnet is a symbol of Rachel’s life and beliefs, however she takes it off putting it aside before seeing John as if she’s momentarily putting that life to hold and joining John and the modern society. During this time her and John share a romantic dance together and result with a sexual pause with Eli to interrupt and warn Rachel of being shunned. When John first arrives to the Amish community he brought with him the violence and corruption from the outside world. Restoring the birdhouse he once destroyed before leaving returning the Amish community to its original state. Weir uses the birdhouse to represent a “clash of cultures” with the peaceful Amish being invaded by the violent “English”. 2. How does Weir present the theme of cultural divide within the film? Peter Weir presents the theme of cultural divide within the film through contrasting the differences between the modern society and the Amish. Weir uses such techniques as contrasting characters along with ironic juxtaposition. Elaine and Rachel are contrasting characters in which Weir uses to introduce to the audience the different expectations of a woman in both the Amish and the “English world”. The slight similarities of the two however are they are both single mothers without a husband however Elaine has John just as Rachel has Eli, which notifies the audience of the contrasts between the two. Elaine’s choices about her relationships is open however Rachel follows a strict moral code, without have a romantic night with her lover and unlike Elaine Rachel can become an outcast for doing so for immoral behavior and become “shunned”. Weir uses the setting and costumes to give insight into the cultural expectations of the two women. Weir also uses ironic juxtaposition throughout the film such as John dress in the plain Amish clothes however he threatens an elderly woman for taking photographs with him which is seen and looked down upon be Eli, he then uses a telephone while out and amongst the public. These scenes imply how different the Amish and English are with clashing into each other.

3. How does Weir convey the idea of the witness in the film? Peter Weir conveys the idea of the “Witness” throughout the film by applying not just one witness but the idea of witnesses, Samuel witnessing the murder of Zenovich first hand, Rachel Witnessing violence and brutality for the first time of her life, and the Amish community witnessing the love triangle between Daniel Hochleitner and John book as well as witnessing the confliction between Paul Schaffer and Book. During the murder scene Samuel being the witness hides as Zenovich is murdered and Weir uses the point of view of Samuel looking through the crack between the doors of the cubicle. Weir also intends and applies another idea of witness among the audience as they too are witnessing the murder. Rachel witness’s violence and brutality for the first time of her life during the “Happy Valley” scene as John and his partner Carter drag T-Bone to the car where Samuel and Rachel huddle together in fear. Book thrusts the suspects face up against the car window which creates a distorted and evil looking feature upon his face this is viewed through Rachel’s point of view portraying their vulnerability. During the end of the film, Weir applies another idea of witness by using the Amish...
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